Daily Update #172

Isaiah 11:1-10 Ps 72:1-4; 18-19 Luke 10:21-24
Hello everyone! I wonder if you know which book of the Bible Jesus is quoted as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,”? It might surprise you. The answer is at the end of the second page.

At this time I expect many of us are anticipating what we might like to receive as a Christmas present. It’s part of the fun, part of the excitement. It is nice to be given something that shows you are appreciated, thought of and worth spending some money on! Imagine the joy when we receive something surprising that we hadn’t thought of or had but could not afford.

Isaiah also foresaw that God would give His people things that were beyond their expectations. We read about a wide range of beautiful things, all of which we need. But we also read that delight a characteristic of this coming King. The sum of all that God would give to Him, produces joy.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord
.

It may be that when we receive something truly surprising, or thoughtful, we respond, “You shouldn’t have!” We say, “I owe you one.” We may feel slightly embarrassed or even feel indebted. They have surpassed both what we expected we were worth to them and what they were worth to us! We may know the sacrifice they have made to afford it or the lengths they have gone to to find it. Next time, we say, “I’ll make sure I repay their kindness with…”, we will remember to, “spend a little more,” next time. It is interesting how we can often struggle to gratefully accept the good things people have given us, without some feeling of indebtedness.

Not so with God. It was his good pleasure to give. And in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus has no problem giving thanks to God for what he has freely given the disciples. He says, “I praise you Father because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children.” What a contrast. The followers of Christ received more from Jesus than those who thought they might have deserved it. We may need to learn to accept the gifts of God as much as our need for them

I mentioned last Sunday our need to remember, because life before we knew Christ and life after showed us the difference his giving of himself has made. But often in our own illusion of being self-sufficient and in need of nothing, we pretend to ourselves that we did not need
those things.  We do this, because we forget.

In this passage, Luke’s parallel of Matt 13, those who follow Jesus will continue to receive, even more! More what? More of Christ in their life. Greater realisation of his grace. The transforming power of the Holy Spirit who conforms us to his likeness. A surer hope than the fruitless rigour of trying to keep the Law, when we can learn to receive.

Joy.
Unexpected,
Undeserved,
Unmerited,
Unlimited,
Joy.

Prayer for today Lord,

I let go of the worries, resentments and fears
That I can sometimes hold on to so tightly
That shield me from knowing your love and care,
your forgivenesses and kindnesses.
Let me open my hands and my heart to receive freely
All the spiritual gifts that I need at this time.                              Amen.

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